What Do 5G and Blockchain Have to Do With Intercarrier Services?

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They say that too many cooks spoil the soup. That may be true when it comes to cooking, but when 11 global service providers and 6 technology leaders come to grips with 5G, blockchain, and network service automation, the outcome is an award for Outstanding Catalyst Depicting Business Assurance Awareness.

A few weeks ago, Amartus had the pleasure to attend the TMF Digital Transformation World event in Nice, France. Nice is a spectacular city, yet the delectable food, sparkling wine, and the golden sands of the French Riviera did not detract us from our primary objective, participation in the TMF Catalyst Skynet demonstration.

6 Technology Vendors, 11 Service Providers

For this groundbreaking PoC, we joined forces with five other network and telco leaders – BearingPoint, Ericsson, EXFO, Infosys, and RIFT.IO, and eleven top carriers providing their services worldwide – BT, Chunghwa Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Du, NTT Group, Orange, Verizon, Vodafone, Telecom Italia, and Telus.

We set ourselves an ambitious goal based on a real-life scenario. Our solution was to use the latest technology innovations to enable medical help (remote consultation or surgery) over long distances (the UK to Japan). To that end, we decided to verify the 5G as an enabling technology and combine it with open, standardized MEF LSO 3.0 APIs, blockchain, and a federated orchestration architecture.

5G-enabled Remote Healthcare in a Multi-operator Orchestrated Environment

 

Our team developed a scenario where connectivity is set up between two operators in different geographies using 5G network slicing and an IMS service execution. This set up constitutes an intercarrier business relationship. The activation and usage of the remote network slice become reconciled and subject to a settlement between the two providers. This is where the Amartus Intercarrier Settlement platform plays a significant role as it enables automation of these federation activities by leveraging the blockchain technology.  

Federating Architecture for Intercarrier Business Automation

Another element of the award-winning PoC where Amartus contributed was the federation of an architectural approach to support intercarrier automation.

The federated model we created was greatly inspired by MEF LSO 3.0 reference architecture, to the definition of which Amartus also contributed.  The architecture clearly defines the role of the actors involved in the solution.

Apart from the customer, the key role is that of a service provider (SP). This role holds the ultimate responsibility to the customer for service delivery. To fulfill the customer’s request, a service provider sometimes needs to partner with other operators who can supply the missing piece of connectivity for the end-to-end service. In such a case, the SP becomes a buyer. This is the case for the remote medical services that span large distances.

Skynet Framework Architecture – Merging the Potential of 5G Network Slicing, IMS & Blockchain

The nature of the intercarrier set up is made more complex when utilizing a 5G network slice – an analog to a connectivity service combined with IMS services. This complexity allowed us to fully unleash the potential of Amartus Intercarrier Settlement platform. By using a decentralized Blockchain based approach we were able to automate payment and reconciliation between providers. Without it, costly, manual intervention or third party clearing house support would be required.

There are several other use cases we’ve identified so far that our solution can also support.

For network slicing:

  • Slice activation charging.
  • Slice modification charging (bandwidth-on-demand).
  • Penalty fee execution as a result of an SLA violation.

For traditional services:

  • Automation of price list publication.
  • Dispute handling (visualized in the figure below).

An Award-winning Idea That Benefits Us All

The best proof of the validity and relevancy of the above solution is the award it received at the show. TM Forum acknowledged the joint efforts of our team with the Outstanding Catalyst Depicting Business Assurance Awareness prize.

For us, being recognized for this project was particularly important, as it proved again that industry collaboration often beats solo work. When you’re part of a team that builds a friendly, cooperative, and creative environment, hard work becomes a pleasure. Together, we created a cutting-edge solution that serves a greater good – human health; achieving this on one’s own would be impossible.

Digital Transformation World, See You Next Year!

TMF DTW 2019 was a very intense, enjoyable, and, as it turned out, rewarding time for Amartus. The show made for a grand finale of a fascinating journey we embarked on a few months ago with our PoC partners. We hope to take part in other inventive and productive collaboration projects shortly, and look forward to the next DTW event in 2020!

If your company is interested in working on a similar telco/networking solution together, as a PoC or commercially, get in touch with us [link to Contact us] and we can take it from there.